Greek Leek Pasta with Vegan Feta Cheese

We aren’t Vegan, but we do eat a lot of vegan and vegetarian foods. We grow a garden, so throughout the summer we’re in veggie overload, and for health reasons I can’t take medicine for, I try to stay away from a lot of meat (particularly red) and dairy. This naturally lends itself to Vegan eating. However, I’m not picky about it. If meat is available, and I really want it, I’ll eat it. Andy likes when I put fennel in things when I don’t cook with meat because, “fennel makes everything taste like sausage.”

Thankfully my parents exposed us all to gardens and varieties of foods & spices, including a lot of vegan/vegetarian foods and substitutions growing up. I can’t remember a single year of my life we didn’t have some sort of garden, tofu in the fridge or nutritional yeast in the pantry. I was aware at a young age where vegetables came from, though I wish as a teenager I had been more active in it. I’ll never forget our neighbors throwing a party and Dad spraying turkey shit all over the garden the day before – having no idea about the outdoor party. It still cracks me up. All that said, growing up this way makes transitioning to primarily vegetarian/vegan easy for me.

Tonight I decided to try a vegan feta cheese. The recipe looked promising, but I was hesitant to believe it would taste like Feta. When I read a recipe I can sort of taste it, and I wasn’t buying the authentic feta taste the reviews gave.

Truth time. I compared this to regular nice Feta – it tastes nothing like it {to me} but it was really good.  A direct comparison of taste to texture had nothing on feta but to be completely honest – I almost preferred it. Also, this “vegan feta” would be fantastic heated up like scrambled tofu and spread over a piece of toasted bread for a decadent breakfast. I’m already dreaming of it. The verdict is that if you like tofu, you’ll probably like this. If you’ve never had tofu and/or expect this to taste like Feta you’ll be disappointed. I can compare this to wanting real maple syrup and buying some store brand “pancake syrup”. Listen, it’s not bad but if you wanted real maple syrup – you’ll be pretty disappointed. If you’re looking for a sugary sometimes tasty pancake topping in syrup form – you won’t be upset.

Pros:

  • Good texture (if you’re used to extra firm tofu)
  • Good taste
  • Delicious chilled or warmed up
  • Not salty like regular Feta

Cons:

  • Not as firm as regular Feta
  • Not as sharp, more “flowery” than Feta due to the herbs
  • The taste is simply not Feta, so if you want a replica – this isn’t it, but it might be as close as you can get.

If you want to give it a go, head on over to the Happy Herbivore and get her recipe. I made it verbatim and used fresh lemons for the lemon juice.

Greek Leek Pasta (adapted from Farmer Johns Cookbook, The Real Dirt on Vegetables)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces spinach pasta – I used penne
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, sliced very thin
  • 2 teaspoons fennel
  • 6 cloves garlic minced up
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes with skin removed OR 28 ounce can of crushed tomato with some water drained out
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp oregano – I used dried
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp redwine vinegar
  • Vegan or regular Feta to top with
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook & drain pasta
  2. In a large skillet add oil, leeks, fennel and garlic. Saute until the leeks are tender 15-20 minutes. Stir every few minutes so they don’t stick and the garlic doesn’t burn. That color gets me every. single. time. These are from our garden; I love Fall crops.
  3. Stir tomatoes, oregano, olives, salt and red wine vinegar together in with the leek mixture. Let the water cook off the tomatoes until reduced. The book said significantly and about 20 minutes. My hunger got me after about 15.
  4. Toss pasta and tomato mixture together.
  5. Add feta mixture of your choice on top.

It’s really that simple and is quite tasty.

Over all, I like the vegan feta as just another topper of sorts – but I call it feta very loosely. I’m looking forward to warming it up like scrambed tofu and spreading it on toast for breakfast. It’s going to be delightful.

Enjoy!

-Heather

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